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Hearing for Tennessee workers comp opt-out bill canceled

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A Tennessee House of Representatives subcommittee hearing for a bill that would allow private employers to opt out of the state's workers compensation system has been canceled.

H.B. 997 sponsor Rep. Jeremy Durham, a Republican who is currently on an approved leave of absence, on Monday took the bill “off notice,” meaning it won't be heard by the Tennessee House Consumer and Human Resources Subcommittee at this time, according to his office.

“As long as the bill has not been formally withdrawn, the sponsor may put the bill back 'on notice' for a future meeting of the committee,” said Nathan Whitt, legislative assistant to Republican Rep. Jimmy Eldridge, who chairs the full House Consumer and Human Resources Committee. “We haven't received any indication whether or not the bill will be brought up again during this session of the (Tennessee) General Assembly.”

The Tennessee Employee Injury Benefit Alternative, a measure that would allow employers to provide injury benefit plans that are less comprehensive than state-mandated workers comp insurance, was proposed in February 2015.

The bill borrows language from Oklahoma and Texas, two states that traditionally allow employers to leave the state workers comp system.

This isn't the first roadblock for Tennessee H.B. 997 and S.B. 721, the Tennessee Senate's companion bill, as the state's Advisory Council on Workers' Compensation unanimously decided against recommending the bill in March 2015.